March! I love it. The weather changes, the days get longer and there is this little basketball tournament that takes over my life. We all know it as March Madness, and I hope it never stops.
I tested my brain the other day and tried to remember as far back as I could on what year I started watching. This is going to really age me, but I got back as far as 1986. Louisville won it all and I was hooked for the next 30 years and counting. Yes, when the tourney fires up this week, it will be my 30th watching on TV.
So many highs and lows. I have seen my team, Michigan, win once and lose a handful of times in dramatic fashion. The players come and go, but the name on the front of the jersey stays true.
There is no other sporting event like it. Anyone, and I mean anyone, can get wrapped up into buzzer beaters and upsets. You don’t have to know anything about the sport or the players, all you need is a heart.
Baseball. It has been my best friend, my worst enemy and everything in between. I used to love it. I used to hate it. But thanks to being a dad and those dang Toronto Blue Jays, as Jay Z would say, I think I got my swagger back.
Baseball has once again become a big part of my life. I even have my first glove since I was a teen.
For those who knew me as a kid, you would remember my sticker collections, building mini stadiums in my room and of course knowing every single
baseball stat there was (BEFORE THE INTERNET).
I grew up as a Detroit Tigers fan and that meant despising the Toronto Blue Jays. Yes I f’in hated George Bell, Dave Stieb and every dude associated with them.
I never played organized baseball, but I played and played often with neighbourhood buddies. I saw myself as the Canadian Mark McGwire before there was a Mark McGwire.
I dug the long ball before I even knew about the chicks.
Just sitting here now, if I really try hard, my first memory of watching MLB was the World Series when the Cardinals and Brewers squared off in 1982. I remember Robin Yount, Cecil Cooper and just have friggen fast those Cardinals were.
Have I proved to you how much I loved baseball yet?
Over the years, being a blogger has brought a lot of free samples and products to test and review. It’s certainly a perk. But the ultimate is when you get invited to events where you get to meet other bloggers and celebrities and enjoy a VIP experience.
Last night, thanks to my relationship with Swiffer, my wife and I got to dine with Damon Stoudamire, the first ever draft pick of the Toronto Raptors.
Damon was there to kick off a new campaign where anyone can own a piece of the #InauguralCourt that the Raptors played on 20 years ago. You can get all the details here, but basically, all you have to do is buy $15 worth of Swiffer product at Loblaws, send in a form and you are mailed a framed piece of history.
The dinner was held at E11even down by the ACC. I had never been so I was excited for a great meal on top of meeting a legend of the hardwood.
The food did not disappoint and neither did the conversation. It took a few cocktails, but everyone starting picking Damon’s brain on his life as a dad, opinions on the NBA and what he would like to do in the future.
Here are a few of the highlights.
Damon has to do his own laundry. He was very clear on this.
One day he would love to coach college ball. He wants to help kids achieve their goals.
Perfect scenario for him, he said a school like Georgia Tech.
He believes Phil Jackson will come down from the booth and coach the Knicks eventually.
Loves Andrew Wiggins growth and advises him to never come home and play for the Raps.
When talking Raptors, he thinks Terrance Ross is the key to their success.
Loves Toronto but does not think he could live in the city. Prefers the warm weather like Arizona.
Not a big fan of Twitter. That’s something his kids do.
Laughed at us all for ordering dessert. The portions were giant.
We took some photos and Damon called it a night because he had a big media day ahead. I am sure you have seen Damon all over the Toronto media.
Meeting Damon has brought on a lot of old memories watching him 20 years ago. He was so quick as the PG for the newly born Raps. He was electric and could shoot from deep. He was the first fan fave when it came to hoops in Toronto.
Photos from the night.
Swiffer is giving away 3400 pieces of the Raptors court from their inaugural ´95-96 season. It´s your chance to own a piece of Raptors history. Receive by mail† when you buy $15 worth (after coupons or discounts applied and before taxes) of Swiffer products between March 25-June 30, 2015. Limited time offer.
I love basketball. I really love March and basketball.
This past weekend was the annual sloth fest of watching as much hoops as possible. The NCAA Tournament is what the world calls it, but it goes by a much cooler nickname, which is March Madness.
64 teams (I don’t care about those other four because I am old school) crammed into three weeks of insane drama. Back in the day I would probably watch 80% of the coverage and that is without PVR or live streaming. But since becoming a parent, the new norm is reading about games, seeing highlight packs and tuning in for the last five minutes of a game. The other 35 minutes are not as important as Thomas the Train.
The tourney brings out the best and worst of coaches, players and teams. The mistakes and bone-headed plays make it real. It’s not a pro game where execution happens 95% of the time. I love the flaws.
It is all unpredictable (see my brackets for proof), it is heart-warming, it sparks arguments and it rallies people together. This sounds a lot like a family. This past weekend, on top of buzzer beaters, Furious 7 commercials and way too much of Charles Barkley, our family was separated into our own version of the Final Four, with each trying to survive the day.
I am not sure if it was the change of seasons, the warm,cold, warm, cold weather thing we got going on, or maybe the Madness just taking over. But in our house, it was like an old-school slug fest like they used to have in the Big East Tournament.
Everyone was tired, everyone was on edge and everyone wanted things to go their way at the buzzer.
Katie and I of course are a team without question and it seemed like we were on opposite sides of the bracket. We wanted to get to the Final Two, where things would be calm and go back to normal. But we were pitted against two opponents who were ready for a tussle.
Man what I would have given for TV timeouts or the change to diagram plays that would be followed through on. It seemed like no matter what we were doing, we were just getting on each other’s nerves.
Charlie started sleeping in his crib without the rail. This of course opened his world fully. He now gets up, opens the door and leaves the room.
Harry got some new hama beads, but he can only seem to enjoy on his own when Katie is not around.
I can’t drink beer and not snore all night.
Katie due to a lot of this is just plain tired and can’t fully function as she would like.
Saturday and Sunday felt like we were playing a never-ending game against the Kentucky Wildcats.
It was not until about 9:30 pm last night where we acknowledged that we made it. We survived the onslaught of boys.
Katie and I advanced to the Final Two.
There was no net cutting or branded hats. There was quiet. Well until I snored again after the lights went out.
I love basketball. I really love March and basketball.
I really, really, really love March and basketball and my family.
Other Notes From The Opening Weekend
When I see the ad for NCAA.com, I can’t help but laugh at the fact that the webmasters earn more than the players.
Oh, are you wondering who would win the title game between Katie and I? It is a good question. Like I said, we are a team, so it really doesn’t matter. As long as we can stay ahead of the boys, all will be good.